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Army asks private sector to supply recruits

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June 5, 2000
Web posted at: 11:50 p.m. EDT (0350 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Because good financial times are making it harder to find military recruits, the U.S. Army is making an unusual request to private companies: Let us have first crack at your new employees.

"This is an opportunity to work together, long-term, with industry to let the Army have those young people first," said Col. Bob Qualls, the manager of Partnership for Youth Success. "And then, after they complete their terms of service, to return them to industry for employment and have better employees."

Defense contractor General Dynamics has already signed up.

Said General Dynamics Senior Vice President Art Veitch: "If someone came to us and said, 'We will take a new employee, train them for four years, weed out those that are not going to cut it and give them back to you' and they say they'll do it for nothing, you can't get a better deal than that,".

That's just what the Army is promising to do. And it says that so far at least a dozen more companies -- ranging from General Motors to Sun Micro Systems and furniture maker Ethan Allen -- have expressed interest.

What's in it for the recruits? The Army is asking employers to reward them with preferential consideration once they finish their military service.

There 14 categories of job skills available in the program, ranging from mechanics to health professionals and even reporters.

The Army fell nearly 10 percent short of its goal of 74,000 recruits last year.

Military headhunters this year have been ordered to convince 80,000 civilians to enlist. And the top brass admit that a tour of duty can be a tough sell these days of low unemployment and a strong economy.

"We've got to find new, innovative ways of communicating to young people that their experience as a soldier is going to serve them well throughout their lives, including when they leave active duty," said U.S. Army Secretary Louis Caldera.

Correspondent Carl Rochelle contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
U.S. Army offers new education incentives to attract recruits
February 3, 2000
Army may lower standards to attract recruits
May 26, 1999
U.S. military recruits on the Web
April 27, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Army and Army Reserve Recruiting
The U.S. Army Homepage
General Dynamics
General Motors
Sun Microsystems
EthanAllen.com

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